The consequences of false weight loss claims:
- The proliferation of "fast and easy fixes" undermines the reality of what it takes to lose weight. People who need to lose weight are buying empty promises.
- The deceptive promotion of quick and easy weight loss solutions potentially fuels unrealistic expectations on the part of consumers. Consumers who believe that it is really possible to lose a pound a day may quickly lose interest in losing a pound or less a week.
- Many supplements, sold in fraudulent ads, are of unproven value or have been linked to serious health risks. Ephedra or ephedrine alkaloids, for example, may be associated with dangerous effects on the central nervous system and heart and may result in serious injury for some persons.
- A majority of adults in the United States are overweight or obese. They invest billions in weight loss products and services, many of which are useless, or even dangerous.
Complaints: How to Appraise & Handle Them
- If merchandise has been misrepresented, check your own screening procedures. Be aware that for every complaint you receive, more consumers have had similar unhappy experiences. When the number of complaints is out of proportion to the size of the ad or the size of the audience, contact the advertiser, advise your credit department, and inform your local Better Business Bureau or consumer protection agency.
- In addition, contact your state consumer protection agency, your state attorney general, the Federal Trade Commission, or the Postal Inspection Service. Complaints from the public and media alert these agencies to a pattern of deception that may warrant further investigation. Their phone numbers are listed in the resources section of this Web site.